Reply To: HS son still refusing school-when do I say enough is enough?

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Penny Williams

I would still consider a complaint – either civil rights federally or with your state’s department of ed special education department. I filed a state complaint on a charter school my son attended a few years ago. They completely broke him always telling him to try harder and to do better. It was so bad he started self-harming — the only time in his life.

This is the reason I’d still make a formal complaint:
“he has to feel the consequences of his actions in order to see any change”

That is NOT how you help kids with disability in school. The state has to be compliant with IDEA law and this is clearly not how the law says to address disabilities. Not only do they need to get this school and staff in line for your son, but for the hundreds of kids like him who will walk through those doors in the future. I pulled my son from that Charter school and filed the complaint after we left, just for that reason (and a little bit vengeance, if I’m being honest). They were found to be non-compliant and administrators and special ed staff were mandated to complete 10 hours of SPED training in 30 days.

As for your son and where he is right now… sit down and have a chat with him to come up with a plan together. Let him know you now realize how hard school is for him to get through each day. Remind him that you know he wants to succeed and they you want to do everything you can to help him do that. Ask him specifically what are the barriers and struggles he thinks are preventing his success. Make a plan to address each. Write all of this down — it’s exponentially more impactful. Show him his feelings are valid, that you know his struggle is real, and that you’re on his side and you have his back.

One last thing… many kids with ADHD/autism struggle with sensory issues. They can literally feel like they’re being assaulted throughout the day in a loud, chaotic, out-of-their-control environment like school. That’s the biggest reason my son went to half-days in person. He feels like he’s constantly under siege in that environment. He was constantly on edge, agitated, angry and desperate. No one should live like that. 🙁

ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism